According to WIZO, there are around 130,000 single parent families in Israel, of which 95% of them are single mothers. Yet sadly, too many single mothers in Israel are struggling to survive the pandemic period.
For the average Israeli Jewish mother in a family with both mother and father, it is very difficult to balance working with children during regular times, and the corona period has created added difficulties. However, these added difficulties are tenfold worse if one is a single mother.
For example, if one wants to take the children to the cinema, a play or a children’s museum, one must do a coronavirus test for each child beforehand. This makes doing these fun activities for one’s children more logistically complicated. But for a single mother, doing such fun activities for one’s children means going to get the test for one’s children alone and then taking the children all by oneself to do such activities, without help. It also means that the single mother must work and earn enough money to do such nice things for her children, even though the work-children balance is so difficult to maintain for a single mother.
However, single mothers in the Jewish state do have a role model to look up to and that role model is Nicole Levine, a single Jewish Israeli mother who was born and raised in Petach Tikva, yet who managed to be the founder and CEO of HCH Management (CM). In 2011, Levine was named New York Businesswoman of the Year. She has also rang the bell at NASDAQ, made INC 500, visited the White House and got a citation from the US Congress, among other awards.
Life was not always so rosy for Levine. At age 18, Nicole married an American man and relocated to New York and in 1990, she found herself as a single mother to children aged 2 and 5, working to make ends meet teaching in the morning, cleaning offices at night and selling ads in the local newspaper. From that difficult position, she founded Home Clean Home, which became HCH Management (CM) in 1994.
Levine’s business provides services to residential city and state clients in the United States. Among Levine’s successful projects was performing restoration work for Ground Zero following 9/11, restoration work at South Sea Seaport, restoring police stations that were flooded following Hurricane Sandy, doing post construction cleaning of La Gurdia Airport, to name a few.
Levine’s latest company is named Hygea Natural, which manufactures EPA-exempt products: “We designed a line of pet, cleaning and pest products that are all naturally derived. Now, we are working on a full line of cosmetic products, which are all made with premium ingredients using patent technology to solve complex dry processed hair. The hair products are made in Israel.”
During the corona period, Levine was also heavily involved in the struggle to protect New York from the pandemic via utilizing a patent technology: “This product was utilized in hotels, train stations, city and state offices, etc. The product enables these establishments to remain open to the public.”
Although Levine relocated to the United States, she did not lose touch with her Jewish identity. All her children attended yeshiva in New York. Presently, she has a daughter named Vanessa with a master’s degree from Harvard University, a son named Sean who by age 23 had a law degree and a master’s degree in political science, and a son named Alia, who joined the IDF two years ago.
Three years ago, Levine herself made Aliyah and she continues to run the business empire that she started in the United States from the Jewish state. And today, she is presently building a home for herself in Herzliya and invests heavily in Jewish causes. Her Nicole Levine Foundations invests in helping Jewish single moms to become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses.
As Levine noted, “I help them not only monetarily wise but also as a business coach. I look at jobs and deals that they would like to get into, and I advise them, and help them build businesses from the ground up. I help other women to become entrepreneurs and to guide them on what it takes to succeed in this. I seek to help them fulfill their passions and to make their dreams come true, which gives them strength and endurance to work and persevere, without sitting at home and feeling sorry for themselves.”
Levine demonstrates to every Jewish single mom in Israel that it is possible to both be a single mom and to have a thriving career. - although just raising good kids is more than enough for a single mom. She also demonstrated to every olah that it is possible to take a business that one established in the United States and to continue operating it from Israel.
For every struggling Jewish Israeli single mom, this teaches one that hard work and perseverance does pay. Therefore, even though the pandemic has not been eliminated yet and we are still living in difficult times, we should do everything in our power to encourage Jewish Israeli single moms to be successful and to thrive in the business world, as their ingenuity is another group through whose efforts the Jewish state can be revitalized and thrive post-pandemic.
Rachel Avraham is an Israel-based journalist and the editor of the Economic Peace Center. She is also the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”